Copyright © 2014 by Intelligent Systems Laboratory, Computer Science Department, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 3200003, Israel. All rights reserved


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MARS

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The MARS Laboratory at the Technion CS Department is dedicated to research on Swarm, or Multi-agent, or Ant Robotics. Our inspiration comes from biology, from the wonders of ant colonies, or from other social insects and animals.As such, we usually deal with very simple robotic agents, having restricted sensing and communication capabilities, and analyze, both mathematically and experimentally, via simulations and hardware implementations, the capabilities of such systems to organize themselves into formations, to patrol and cover a region in their environment, or to achieve other interesting collaborative tasks.  The work we do relies on the paradigm of simple agents, with limited memory and computational resources, and we are interested in both direct problems, of analyzing emergent global, colony or swarm behaviors that arise from a set of given local rules of interaction, and in inverse problems dealing with designing local rules of local interagent, and agent-environment interactions, that provably lead to desired global behaviors like patrolling,  cleaning, sweeping a region, and detecting the presence of either friendly or unfriendly objects or agents in the environment. Following the example of pheromone-based interactions in ant colonies, we study ways of exploiting odor traces of other types of signaling methods based on modifying the environment in ways that the simple agents of the colony can sense and make sense of.

At present there are several Graduate Students active in the Lab, we have the full support of a skillful Lab Engineer with background in CS and Mechanical Engineering, and wealth of undergraduates doing experimental projects on several types of off-the-shelf robotic platforms. Furthermore we are in the final stages of developing our own, mini-robotic platform, a small and modular autonomous robot having good motion and local sensing capabilities called NEMALA (Ant in Hebrew) that will be smaller than 4 cubed centimeters in size, and will have quite advanced programming capabilities, and of which we plan to build several hundred specimens to serve us in our hardware swarming experiments.

 

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